19 Nov 12. Ministers of Defence met in the composition of the European Defence Agency (EDA) steering board, under the chairmanship of Catherine Ashton as the Head of the Agency.
Ministers took note of the significant progress of pooling and sharing initiatives such as air-to-air refuelling, maritime surveillance, the European SATCOM procurement cell and medical support. Additionally, Ministers endorsed the EDA’s proposal of additional pooling and sharing opportunities in the areas of cyber defence, route clearance CIED, NH90, air transport, and maritime landscaping. They also adopted the Agency’s voluntary code of conduct on pooling and sharing aiming at supporting cooperative efforts of EU Member States to develop defence capabilities.
Additionally, ministers welcomed the Agency’s work in support of national defence ministries vis-à-vis the development of EU policies in industry and market, research and innovation, European space policy, cyber security and defence, SESAR, radio spectrum and maritime security.
* During the meeting of the European Defence Agency’s Steering Board, defence ministers welcomed the progress made by the majority of Pooling & Sharing initiatives they had endorsed one year ago.
* In 2012, two exercises were held in the framework of the Helicopter Training Programme (HTP). The exercises hosted by Portugal and Belgium allowed for the training of 56 helicopter crews and over 3,000 ground personnel. During the EDA Steering Board, Defence Ministers signed a Programme Arrangement for live exercises over ten years. Initially based on delivering live exercises aiming at disseminating tactical skills, the Helicopter Training Programme now includes a synthetic simulator based training project, a helicopter tactics instructor training course, and an operational English training course.
* The Maritime Surveillance (MARSUR) live network continues to extend its membership. The goals of the network are to facilitate exchange of information and to support safety and security. In October 2012, Bulgaria, Latvia and Norway joined the network which now includes 18 nations.
* The European Satellite Communications Procurement Cell (ESCPC) has moved forward as planned, with the signature of a framework contract in 2012. Five Member States participate on a pay-per-use basis of commercial satellite communications services. For the longer-term Future Military SATCOM project, decisions are required in the near future on the replacement of existing satellite networks in the 2018-25 timeframe. As the window of opportunity will close shortly, EDA stands ready to take action on P&S solutions, and is planning a high level workshop “MILSATCOM 2020” in the first half of 2013 in order to present proposals, foster common activities, and link with bi-lateral initiatives.
* The Multinational Modular Medical Units (Medical Field Hospitals) attracts growing participation. Fifteen Member States have so far signed the Letter of Intent. The Common Staff Target is expected to be finalised by mid-2013. The Memorandum of Understanding and Common Requirements will follow, with the objective of procurement of assets in 2014 and Initial Operational Capability in 2015.
* Air to Air Refuelling (AAR): EDA has developed a global approach with three objectives: increasing overall capacity, reducing fragmentation of the fleet, and optimising the use of assets. The Agency has started to work on short-term solutions including access to commercial AAR services and optimised use of existing assets. Longer-term actions include the acquisition of more AAR kits and increasing the strategic tanker capability in Europe by 2020. A Letter of Intent on a European Strategic Multirole Tanker Transport initiative, prepared under the lead of the Netherlands, was signed during the Steering Board.
* Pilot Training has attracted significant interest. France has offered to lead on transport crew training, and Italy on fast jet training.
* Work on European Mu